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April 15, 2013

On Managing My Own Mind – OR – Becoming Cyborg

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 1:12 am

Harbisson says a dream in which he heard colors made him realize what being a cyborg means. “It’s not the union between the eyeborg and my head that converts me into a cyborg, but the union between the software and my brain,” he said.

Facebook. Twitter. WordPress. Identi.ca. LiveJournal. Google+. Vimeo. MySpace. DeadJournal. YouTube. FetLife. PBWorks. GoogleDocs. Tumblr.

I think it was the Tumblr that did it. I have multiple personal accounts plus various dummy accounts on almost every one of these services and more. Each one holds a piece of my identity — some small, some large — and my brain keeps a map of where all the various parts of me are stored. At least, it did.

I’ve been “feeling weird” for the last few days. I can’t explain what it feels like except…weird. I haven’t even been able to tell if the feeling is physical, emotional, cognitive, or what. That’s unusual for me.

I went swimming this morning. I started off doing laps. But the deep end was full of bugs. There was also a huge-finned shark with gory bloody teeth, a giant snapping turtle 30ft across with ancient alien eyes, and monstrous squid with murderous beaks. So, after a few panicky moments, I mostly swam in circles around the shallow end and talked to myself about the fact that these haunts and terrors are actually in my head. Not in a trivializing, “Rebecca, it’s nothing; it’s all in your head” kind of way. Just reminding myself that these visions are real things and they are legitimately scary, but they’re things that live in my head not in the pool. Which means I can deal with them. I have lots of skills for managing what’s going on in my mind. Far more than I have skills for out-swimming sea monsters.

With the Tumblr account, I think, I’ve reached a critical mass of kaleidoscopic digital identity such that I can no longer keep a comprehensive map of myself in bio-memory. When I try to think about “Who I Am” online, sectors start to flicker on and off. Some get brighter while others get darker. I have the sense that there are puzzle pieces missing. My brain has ceased to contain the universal meta-model.

By the time I got out of the pool, I was swimming full length laps again while composing two new blog posts in my head.

Eventually, I’ll build a tech tool to map all the online parts of myself for me. (The password manager I use, LastPass, seems like a promising start. I can already feel myself interacting with my accounts differently because it’s become so much easier to pop back and forth — just select a self with the click of a mouse.) But for now, I’m kind of in freefall. And it feels, well, liberating. Among other things, since my brain feels less responsible for remembering All The Things, it can focus on just being whichever me I am in a given moment.

The 1st of April was Fool’s Day. The first card in the tarot deck is the Fool. Today is April 14th. The 14th card in the major arcana is Death. Death is the reset button.

Another potential benefit of delegating “Who Am I?” to exo-memory: Less worry that I’ll run out of resources to maintain new identity locations. In other words, I can be as prolific as I wanna be. (Which is very.) If I’m concerned that I might be overwhelming or poorly targeting my audience in a particular location, I can create something new. For example, say I want a place to braindump lots of abstract political analyses of BDSM without it cluttering up the blog that’s focused on technology and methodologies of intimacy. I can just do that. The solution to my existential dilemma around distributed selfhood isn’t to try and aggregate all of my selves into one cohesive whole. It’s to lean into scattering.

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1 Comment »

  1. Like.

    Ironically, I think I’m not as good at scattering. I’m good at syndicating. But this is a broad brush and maybe too much to ask of readers; am I too large? Do I contain too many multitudes?

    I’m looking forward to seeing your cybernetic wings (continue to) grow. šŸ™‚

    Comment by maymay — April 15, 2013 @ 2:39 am | Reply


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